Since then, Alexander has gained a cultlike following of both teen cooks and their parents. Inspired by the number of lives he has touched, Alexander has created 100 slimmed down, kid-tested, mother-approved alternatives for the foods teens love. In KewlBites, Reed Alexaner improves the health profile of such standard teen fare as sliders, chips, chicken fingers, tacos and fries, and he aims to expand the dinner menu to include such dishes as a Margherita Frittata, Oriental Chop Slaw, and Kewl and Breezy Shrimp Rolls. Throughout, he shares the tips, tricks, and methods he used to strip his favorite dishes of their unhealthy ingredients and replace them with flavorful, nourishing ones. He also offers up advice on how to make a shopping list, navigate the grocery store, and choose the freshest ingredients possible.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
GOOD MORNING! The alarm clock has rung, you're suited up and ready to head out the door, most likely mulling over a to-do list that you intend to complete before you return home. But the task that sometimes is disregarded completely is the most important: breakfast. For many of us, it's the one meal that takes a backseat when it should be up front--because your body, like a car, is a machine that needs refueling at the start of each day.
In a perfect world, eating a good breakfast is a seamless step in the morning routine. But I know from experience that it can be a challenge, especially when it seems like every other obligation is far more important. With everything converging during those few morning minutes, who hasn't found themselves crushed by the chaos of completing everything on yesterday's list and worrying about what has to be taken care of today? In the fray, breakfast can easily become a casualty of the morning routine.
Many a morning has come and gone with my missing breakfast because of everything on my plate. It's normal! But I've learned that there's a happy medium between a mad dash and a multicourse morning meal. And it's where I like to hang out. So come and join me, and make a healthy breakfast part of your daily routine. Here are some ideas to help:
WEEKEND PREP. Even on busy weekends there's bound to be a block of time (think: an hour) available in your schedule for making and freezing breakfasts for the week ahead. Perfect example: You're sharing Sunday brunch with your family, enjoying a healthy helping of homemade Belgian Waffles (page 5). Why not whip up an extra batch? Wrap up two at a time in aluminum foil and freeze them. Come Monday morning, just unwrap a pack, microwave until warm (2 minutes usually does the trick), garnish with some fresh, sliced strawberries and a drizzle of pure maple syrup, and serve! It's an instant fiber-filled breakfast treat, minus the cardboard box. Or, try filling your freezer with my basic Classic Pancakes (page 7) or Orange French Toast (page 19).
TWENTY MINUTES ON THE CLOCK! I find 20 minutes to be a reasonable amount of time to sit down, take a deep breath, enjoy breakfast, and fit in a family powwow. Sometimes you'll have more or less time, but this tends to be enough.
SELF-STRATEGY SESSION. For me, breakfast is the first appointment of the day. You've had your restful night's sleep (I hope!), and you're ready to reenter the frenetic world. So why not pencil in an appointment with yourself? I'm a current events junkie, so I use breakfast as a time to watch the morning news, scan the headlines, and mentally sort through what's on tap for the day ahead. There's no reason you can't eat and work at the same time.
SCHEDULE SOLITAIRE. Develop a steady morning schedule for those hectic weekdays. Weekends can be free-style, but, from Monday through Friday, consistency is an important tool to use. Play around with your early morning agenda. Are you a shower-first/breakfast-later kind of person? Maybe you need to eat immediately after waking up and throwing off your covers. Whatever kind of morning person you are, find a method that works for you.
This is one tip that transcends breakfast and is all about personal preferences and setting yourself up for success throughout the day. No pressure here! There isn't a single right answer or ideal formula for finding the schedule that works for you. Feel free to try different ones until you discover a lineup that's most comfortable based on your needs and obligations. Go on--change it up! In no time, you'll have mastered the art of starting your mornings off right!
Belgian Waffles with Strawberry-Vanilla Glaze
YIELD: 8 to 10 medium-size square waffles
These powerhouse whole wheat waffles are crispy on the outside and as puffy as clouds on the inside. Belgian waffles have a naturally festive look and feel but are super-simple to whip up. I love to serve them on a Sunday morning for a fun family get-together; they're the ultimate crowd-pleaser! Drizzled with gooey Strawberry-Vanilla Glaze, they're delicious enough to satisfy any sweet tooth.
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 large egg whites
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Canola oil, for the waffle iron
Strawberry-Vanilla Glaze (recipe below)
Follow the manufacturer's instructions to preheat a waffle iron to medium.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, applesauce, egg whites, and vanilla extract.
Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and mix until just incorporated, with no lumps in the batter.
Lightly coat the waffle iron with oil. Working in batches if necessary, pour the appropriate amount of batter into the wells of the waffle iron, close the lid, and bake until golden brown (per manufacturer's instructions).
Remove the waffles to a serving dish. Serve with (or topped by) the Strawberry-Vanilla Glaze.
YIELD: Approximately 3 cups
Use this flavorful glaze to top off waffles instead of overdoing it with all that excessive maple syrup. Or eat it on its own by the spoonful--a satisfying, stand-alone treat!
2 vanilla beans
1 quart strawberries, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 cups brewed decaffeinated vanilla-flavored tea (steeped in hot water), tea leaves discarded
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup light agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Slice the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Reserve both scraped seeds and bean pods.
In a large, wide saute pan with high sides, combine the vanilla seeds and pods, the strawberries, tea, orange juice, and agave nectar. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is substantially reduced and the strawberries are tender, resulting in a thick, syrupy compote, 45 to 50 minutes.
Stir in the vanilla extract and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Discard the vanilla pods. Set aside to cool for approximately 5 minutes.
Serve alongside (or atop) waffles, warm or chilled.
YIELD: 10 to 12 scones
These fruit-studded treats are inspired by my visits to London. It's one of my favorite cities and the place I love to indulge in afternoon tea, complete with authentic scones. With ingredients like heart-healthy canola oil and unsweetened applesauce, they don't need butter and are so much lighter than their traditional counterparts. Instead of opting for clotted cream, spread a spoonful of glistening jam, jelly, or marmalade on the scones when they're warm from the oven.
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1/3 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup dried currants, coarsely chopped
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, combine the self-rising and whole wheat flours, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, oil, applesauce, and orange zest.
Pour the liquid mixture into the dry and mix until just combined. Stir in the cherries and currants.
Scoop 2 tablespoons of the dough, roll into a ball, place on the sheet, and press down slightly to flatten. Scoop 2 more tablespoons of dough, roll into a ball, set on top of the flattened dough, and press down to likewise flatten and form a double-layered scone. Repeat with the remaining batter to make 10 to 12 scones, placing them 2 inches apart on the sheet.
Lightly beat the egg with the water. Lightly brush the tops and edges of the scones with the egg wash using a pastry brush.
Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until the scones are puffed and golden brown. Serve warm.
YIELD: 6 servings
The toppings on these crustless egg wedges are the secret to their fantastic flavor: Caramelized shallots provide sweetness while the robust, chewy mushrooms and fresh sauteed spinach round out each hearty bite. I've specified easy-to-find button mushrooms for this recipe, but you can be adventurous: Cremini, oyster, portobello, and shiitake are all great alternatives.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced into rounds
2 1/4 cups thinly sliced button mushrooms
2 cups spinach leaves
1/2 cup minced fresh chives or scallions, plus extra to garnish
3 large eggs
4 large egg whites
3 tablespoons nonfat milk
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat American cheese
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the shallots and saute until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and cook until the juices are released and have begun to reduce, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until slightly wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Fold in the chives and cook 1 minute to warm through. Remove from the heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, salt, and pepper.
Using a paper towel, wipe out the skillet, then set over medium-low heat. Pour in half of the egg mixture and cook until the bottom has just set, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a spatula, push the cooked egg from the edges to the center while tipping the pan, allowing any uncooked egg to run onto the hot surface.* Once all the egg is set, transfer to a serving plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining egg mixture.
To assemble, top each egg pizza with half of the mushroom filling, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle with the cheese and garnish with chives. Cut each pizza into 6 wedges.